Ovid in Exile
This epilogue explores how the principles which have been delineated by focusing on Catullus, Propertius, and Horace might apply to a poet of the next generation. The exile poetry of Ovid uses the conventions earlier authors developed, by which the circuit of communication depicted in the poetry is framed by an implicit acknowledgment of the communication between poet and reader, but in a body of poetry in which the stakes of both kinds of communication are almost impossibly high. The Tristia present themselves as earnest attempts to use poetry to bring about the author's recall from exile, but are shaped just as strongly by the consciousness that they are, in effect, documenting his experience of political repression for readers of the future. There is, of course, an extremely strong coherence in theme, topic, and form throughout the five books of the Tristia. And yet the collection exhibits a surprising degree of variation in the orientation of “story” to discourse, partially masked by the narrow spectrum of topics and themes. Although most of the poems take the form of letters to specific individuals back in Rome, this particular form of poem exists within a more varied pattern than is usually discussed.
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